(Author’s Note: This wasn’t easy to write. But it needs to be said.)
So. That happened. Cliff Pu is now a member of the Carolina Hurricanes. I’m going to miss Jeff Skinner, but what’s done is done.
Pu was drafted 69th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2016. In his last two years in the OHL, he put up 170 points in 128 regular season games with the London Knights and Kingston Frontenacs. He put up 24 points in 29 playoff games those years. During the 2016-17 season, Pu played with Janne Kuokkanen, a Canes prospect, and Victor Mete, a Habs prospect, on the Knights. Midway through the 2017-2018 season, Pu was traded to the Frontenacs, joining Jeremy Helvig, a Canes goalie prospect.
What a celly by Pu. https://t.co/4C3ZgcedL6
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) January 9, 2016
According to Waddell, Pu won’t be competing for a roster spot this year. Cliff stood out on the Knights during the WJC, when Marner and others weren’t playing for the team. The next year, he was their best player.
But, enough about his stats. He’s a promising player that can tear it up. There’s something a little more pressing to talk about. And it hits incredibly close to home for me. This isn’t something I want to write about. It drags up things that took forever for me to get through. And things that I still haven’t gotten through. But it’s important.
In elementary school, my last name was the butt of jokes because the last few syllables sounded like potty. One thing I vividly remember was getting called ‘curry potty’. Which was extra insulting, because I eat curry on a daily basis. In middle school, it migrated to making fun of my nickname. In fact, I only go by my nickname because people never made an effort to learn how to say it, and I grew to hate my full name. To this day, I go by my nickname in every circumstance but legal. According to middle school kids, my name sounds extremely similar to ‘ni hao’, Chinese for hello. And that was what they called me. It was just another thing I was made fun of for.
After news of the trade broke on twitter, I began to see tweets mocking Cliff Pu’s name. This is not okay. It’s racist. Our names are important to us. Being mocked for you name, the one your parents gave you, is not something that is easily gotten over. Below are some of the tweets I’ve seen. Some have apologized and deleted the tweets, others have not.
Let it be said that these tweets are not okay.
Another note. The NHL is a predominantly white league. For fans of color, seeing players that look like them can be exciting. Every time I see Jujhar Khaira on the ice, a part of me goes “!!! he looks like me! I look like him!!” Cliff Pu is of Chinese descent, and is one of a handful of NHL prospects of Asian descent. Having his name mocked is not something he, or any player of color for that matter, needs to or should go through.
tl;dr: Don’t make fun of Asian people’s names. It’s not funny, it’s damaging and racist.